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Do You Hear the Sound of the Shofar? (part 3)

Post Title: Tuning Your Ears to the Shofar

The sound of the shofar is a call to repentance. What is repentance? It is a turning to God that involves three things: regret, rejection, and resolve.

  • Regret begins with the recognition that you have done wrong. You have not walked according to God's Word. True regret is expressed in confessing your sins. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 Jn 1:9).

  • Rejection takes responsibility for wrongdoing and turns from it as evil in God's eyes.

  • Resolve means—in light of regretting and rejecting—beginning to do good.

Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. - Isaiah 1:16-17

But how can you be sure that God is merciful? In Jewish tradition, the story of Abraham and Isaac from Genesis 22 is read on the day after Trumpets. How do we know God is merciful? Because He provided the sacrifice. He did not demand human sacrifice. Rather, He asked for trust, for faith, and when Abraham demonstrated that, God provided the lamb.

How do we know that we can appear in confidence before the Judge of the Universe? By His deeds. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 Jn 4:10). The Father gave His only Son for us therefore, our confidence is in the Lamb, not in ourselves.

The shofar has a wonderfully diverse range of meanings.

Typical to the Hebraic mind, some of the ranges are even paradoxical. On the one hand, the sound is good news. On the other hand, it evokes fear, trembling, and awe. I want you to see some of the other biblical associations of the shofar; it is such a powerful symbol.

In the very act of creation, there was the sound of a rushing wind, just like the sound of a shofar. The Feast of Trumpets commemorates the creation of the world and, for that reason, is called Rosh Hashanah, the head of the year in Jewish thought. Their sages taught that, on this day, God created the world. And the One who made all things has the authority to rule and the right to judge the works of His hands.

This is one reason why psychologically, so many today want to evade the issue of a Creator. More than a disposition to be agnostic or atheistic, it is because once you acknowledge there is a Creator of this cosmos, then you make yourself open to the fact of having to answer to the Creator for the way you, his creation, have conducted yourself.

The shofar reminds us there was a divine hand in creation, and there will be a divine hand in judgment. But it is more than that. When I hear the shofar sounding, I hear the voice of God saying, "Adam, Eve, where are you?" It wasn't a question of where are you in space and time. The Father was saying, "Adam, where are you in the Spirit? Do you recognize what you've done? By your transgression, you've broken the fellowship that we have. You have hidden from me. " This is what Rosh Hashanah and the Ten Days of Awe are all about.

In Exodus 19:19, the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai was accompanied by the sounding of the shofar. And as the sound of the shofar grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder. The LORD came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain. And the LORD called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. The Hebrew literally says, "Moses spoke, and God answered the call with a voice."

In ancient Israel, the shofar was sounded by watchmen on the walls, warning the city of impending danger. You see an example of that in Amos 3:6. The shofar was sounded when as a signal for the army of Israelites to assemble for war, like in Judges 3:27. After the Israelites marched around Jericho seven times they gave a loud blast with the shofars and the walls came tumbling down.

Amazing, is it not? To the biblical mind, the shofar has level after level of association.

It is even connected with the advent of the Messiah. Kings in Israel were crowned to the sounding of the shofar. How much more when the Messiah, the King of kings, comes in His glory. Then the LORD will appear over them, and his arrow will go forth like lightning; the Lord GOD will sound the shofar and will march forth in the whirlwinds of the south. On that day the LORD their God will save them, as the flock of his people; for like the jewels of a crown they shall shine on his land. For how great is his goodness, and how great his beauty! - Zech 9:14, 17

Finally, in Jewish tradition, the shofar is associated with confounding the adversary. You are in the courtroom, at the judgment bar of God, so to speak, and the judge is on the throne. Who is the prosecutor? Satan. The word satan simply means adversary in Hebrew. He is prosecuting, bringing every possible grievance against you.

You see, dear friends, God gave us His Word for life; it is guidance, direction, and instruction to help us hit the mark. But we all sin and fall short of the mark. What was given to us as an instrument of life becomes the instrument of death because it acknowledges, identifies, and judges our sins. And so the Adversary comes against us with accusations and condemnations.

Then, at Trumpets and for ten days until the Day of Atonement, the shofar is sounded, calling you to repentance and forgiveness. It confuses your adversary to the point he can not bring any charges against you. Why? His mind is muddled by the sound of the shofar—praise God. The prosecutor can not bring charges because he is conquered by the Lamb. Hallelujah! That will preach for a while, won't it? [laughter]

I think the sound that was heard on the day of Pentecost at the Temple, the sound of a great and mighty rushing wind, was the blowing of the shofar. It grew louder and louder because it was on that very mountain the sacrifice was provided for Abraham. The very sound of rushing wind we see in the creation account of Genesis 1 is now being recreated by the Holy Spirit.

The shofar heralds the coming Feast of Tabernacles. And it was there that the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world stood and cried out, If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.

Dear friends, God is sounding the shofar even now, do you hear Him?

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This study is from a professionally produced transcription of the audio recording. It was edited for readability by the team at JC Studies.

Dwight A. Pryor (1945-2011) was a gifted Bible teacher of exceptional clarity and depth who earned the friendship and admiration of both Christian and Jewish scholars—in the United States and Israel—as well as the respect and appreciation of followers of Jesus around the world. His expertise in the language, literature, and culture of Israel during the life and time of Jesus and the early church yield insights that nourish every area of faith and practice.

Dwight founded JC Studies in 1984 to edify the people of God. Click here to explore over fifty of his audio and video seminars.

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